How to upcycle: an old bath into a stylish sofa

By upcycling expert, Max Mcmurdo 

What you'll need

  • One sheet of 50mm thick medium density upholstery foam
  • An old bath
  • Fire retardant fabric of your choice
  • Fire retardant calico lining (if possible)
  • Paint for the interior and exterior of the bath 
  • Easi Sand or plastic padding filler
  • Spray Primer 
  • Spray paint or desired paint for the feet
  • 9mm plywood

Tools

  • A pencil or marker pen
  • 1 meter rule
  • Angle grinder
  • 1mm slitting disc
  • Paint brushes
  • A roll of masking tape
  • A tape measure
  • Spanner or socket set
  • Sand paper
  • Grinder abrasive disc
  • Wire wool
  • WD40
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Fabric scissors
  1. Firstly, we need to mark the cut lines. Rest a meter long rule on top of the front two feet. Use these as a guide to mark your front horizontal cut line.
  2. Mark the side cut lines parallel to the ends of the bath. To achieve the best results, take a step back to make sure the surround is even and the outside creates a nice visual frame.
  3. Now mark the curves in the corners of the cut line and on the top of the arms. I typically use a role of masking tape to do this as it is perfectly round and always lying around the workshop.
  4. Flip the bath over so it is upside down. Remove the feet with a spanner or socket set and put them to one side as they will require additional work later on.
  5. Using a 1mm slitting disc on an angle grinder, remove the front section previously marked out. The benefit of having the bath upside down at this stage is that as the front panel falls away it is less likely to trap your blade
  6. Once removed, sand any sharp edges with the abrasive disc on your grinder.
  7. Using a filler such as plastic padding or easi sand, fill the cut edge and sand to create a smooth, safe finish.
  8. At this stage, give the inside and outside a light sand.
  9. Paint the inside of the bath in your desired colour, this may require a primer first followed by several thin coats of paint.
  10. Paint the outside in a contrasting colour to suit your scheme. Here you should be able to use a chalk paint without the need for a primer.
  11. While the paint on the bath tub is drying, we can now move our attention to the feet. After a quick sand, give the feet a coat or two of primer before applying your chosen colour. For durability and aesthetics, I tend to go for a few coats of a metallic spray to contrast with the chalky texture of the bath exterior. To finish, coat the feet with lacquer.
  12. Once everything is dry, clean up the nuts and bolts with some wire wool and WD40 and reassemble the bath.
  13. Upholstery - now this is the really tricky bit. I have produced over 300 seats for bath tubs and none of those baths were the same, so every set of upholstery is unique.
  14. Firstly cut a slightly undersized piece of upholstery foam which is roughly 100mm from each side of the bath. Onto this you are going to measure and mark for your top piece of upholstery.
  15. Position this foam centrally in the bottom of the bath and draw a line down the centre. Now measure out from this line to the edge of the bath all the way around, marking each individual dimension.
  16. Now transfer this data onto a piece of 9mm plywood and cut using a jigsaw. Sand the edges to finish.
  17. Using the plywood as a template, cut out another piece of upholstery foam which will create the top of the seat.
  18. Place your chosen fabric face down on a clean work bench. Note: always use a fire retardant calico lining if possible between your finishing fabric and upholstery foam.
  19. Place the top upholstery foam face down onto the underside of the fabric, followed by the plywood. Pull the fabric taught and staple around onto the plywood, starting with the corners.
  20. Place the smaller base piece of foam onto the top of the plywood, cover with fabric stapling again into the plywood which is now in the centre of the two pieces of foam. As this part will not be seen, a cheap calico lining could be used.
  21. Now the upholstery is complete, you can place it in the base of the bath tub sofa. It should self-locate, however if it does move use some double sided Velcro strips to secure.

Things to bear in mind

  • Always use fire retardant fabrics
  • Always paint in a well-ventilated area
  • Always use suitable protective clothing and equipment

For help choosing your new bathroom, take a look at our buying guides. From eco-friendly bathrooms to bathrooms for first-time buyers and everything in between – we’ve got a buying guide for that!

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